Sky Tower to honour Iraqi dead

Iraqi men react at the site after a suicide car bomb attack at the shopping area of Karrada, Baghdad (Reuters)
Iraqi men react at the site after a suicide car bomb attack at the shopping area of Karrada, Baghdad (Reuters)

SkyCity has announced Auckland's Sky Tower will be lit up in red, white and black tonight, after pressure from the Iraqi community.

More than 250 people died in an attack in Baghdad at the weekend, the deadliest since the 2003 invasion.  

"We have many people in our Iraqi community who are hurting and are deeply impacted by this tragedy, and this is a small way that we can express our love and solidarity for this community," says acting general manager Matt Ballesty.

Yesterday Aucklander Rania Alani wrote to the casino operator, asking why it hadn't yet lit up the tower in the colours of the Iraqi flag - it went red, white and blue following the Bataclan Paris attack in November, and the same colours following the Orlando nightclub massacre.

"I wish that it's not that Iraqis' lives are cheaper, and it kind of does seem like it. Everyone is so immune to Iraqis dying lately," said Ms Alani, "but this was a massive incident and it affected a lot of families in New Zealand."

Mr Ballesty said the Sky Tower is lit up "for many different reasons", and will be rainbow-coloured this Friday to mark the 30th anniversary of the Homosexual Law Reform Act.

"We do our best to help mark key moments in time that the public wish to show their support for and we are pleased to be lighting it this evening whilst the vigil is taking place."

"Amazing news," says Ms Alani. "I know a lot of people thought, 'What's the big deal of lighting up a tower with pretty colours?' but it really is about the compassion and it's about the point - it's not about the light."

The SkyCity Employees Association and Unite, which between them represent hundreds of employees at SkyCity - including Muslims and Iraqis living in New Zealand - said they were "stoked" the Sky Tower would be lit up.

"It is a multicultural workplace and SEA-Unite Union there believes all lives are equal," said Unite organiser Joe Carolan.

"We should mourn all the dead with the same respect."

There will be a vigil to honour those killed in Mission Bay, next to the fountain, from 7:30pm on Wednesday night.


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